Monthly Archives: October 2010

Spouse of Ahmad Zeidabadi: “We Constantly Dream of His Freedom”

Since the arrest of Ahmad Zeidabadi, journalist and head of the Islamic Alumni Association a year and a half ago, he has not been able to receive a prison leave. In the past year, Zeidabadi has won the 2010 Golden Pen of Freedom Prize by the World Association of Newspapers and was issued one of the heaviest sentences for a journalist [by the Iranian regime].

Zeidabadi is sentenced to six years imprisonment, a lifelong ban from activities associated with the media or politics, and five years exile in the city of Qonbad-e Qabus. Despite all this, Zeidabadi’s wife and children get through the days holding on to the hope that one day he will be freed.

In an interview with Kaleme, Mahdieh Mohammadi, the wife of Ahmad Zeidabadi, discussed his recent condition:

Kaleme: Mrs. Mohamamadi, may you please provide us with the most recent news on Ahmad Zeidabadi’s situation?

Mahdieh Mohammadi (MM): Mr. Zeidabadi is still held in Rajai Shahr prison along with other political prisoners including Isa Saharkhiz and Masoud Bastani. We get to visit him every week. But since men and women have to visit on separate weeks, I see him every other week. He calls the house twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Anyway, this is how we pass the days far away from each other.

Kaleme: Mr. Zeidabadi is one of the political prisoners who has not yet been given any time off from prison. Why is that?

MM: I have no idea why he is not allowed to benefit from prison leave considering it is his legal right. None of the political prisoners in Rajai Shahr have been given any time off from prison, except for Mr. Soleimani who a few days ago was allowed to leave for a very short period of time. The reason for not allowing a leave for my husband is unknown to us considering that it is a legal right for all prisoners.

Kaleme: What measures have been taken in this regard by you or his lawyer?

MM: We have requested a leave for him five or six times. One of the requests came directly from Mr. Zeidabadi and was received by the Tehran Prosecutor Mr. Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi. Interestingly, he said that it is out of his hands because the Ministry of Intelligence must grant the prison leave, and the Ministry has issues with my husband.  The Tehran Prosecutor stated that there is a lot of sensitivity around [my husband].

Kaleme: Your husband won the 2010 Golden Pen of Freedom Prize. How did that feel?

MM: I had two polar feelings. On one hand, I was truly thrilled and proud that I have spent years living by the side of such a human being; a person whose aptitude and influence is applauded by the world. On the other hand, I am worried that by being given this award, the Islamic Republic will be even more resistant to him. He will be deprived of more allowances, such as his right to prison leave. I’m afraid that prison conditions for my husband will be even more difficult now.

Kaleme: Did Mr. Zeidabadi have any reaction when he heard the news of the prize? What did he say?

MM: This award was given to my husband last year and the ceremonies took place this year. Anyway he was very happy to receive such an award. Mr Zeidabadi is an extremely knowledgeable and talented journalist. Our country is great at fostering the elite, but unfortunately it does not know how to utilize these great citizens. On one hand our universities produce exceptional students, then these same highly educated citizens are held captive in prison.

Kaleme: Mrs. Zeidabadi, you have three sons. How has your husband’s imprisonment affected their lives?

MM: You can imagine how important it is for a father to be there for his sons, especially when they are going through puberty. My two sons who are in their adolescence and the younger one need their father right now. But, unfortunately, my innocent children have been deprived of the blessing of a father for the past year and a half.

Kaleme: How are you holding up? Do you ever cry because of being so far away from your husband?

MM: Of course, yes, over and over again. I cry because of the injustices committed against my husband, me, and our children. I have aged  ten years in the past year and a half. Everyone needs a partner and confidant in their lives, and we had spent every moment of the last 20 years by each other’s side. I will never forget the moment my husband was arrested.

Through the camera lens on my i-phone I witnessed how they took him and dragged him away.  The memory of that moment is very painful. I have the responsibility of three children on my shoulders and [the imprisonment] has made my situation even more difficult. Anyway, we have trust in God, and we must try to have patience so God may provide retribution.

Kaleme: Throughout Mr. Zeidabadi’s imprisonment he has hardly complained or written any letters. Why is this?

MM: In practice, he does essentially recognize the law. Even though he is banned for life from any media activity, he does not accept this verdict, but prefers to heed to it because of the current situation in society. Additionally, at the start of the Millennium, he was sentenced to a five-year ban from any media activity. He has not involved himself in the press or conducted any interview since then.

Kaleme: How much hope do you have that he will be released before his sentence deadline?

MM: We have a lot of hope and get by every day holding on to this hope. I always tell my friends that if they told me on the day of his arrest that we would endure a year and a half of separation, I probably would not be able to bear it. Every day we hope that he will be freed. Every night we sleep with the hopes and dreams of his freedom. I cannot imagine, even for a moment, that he will actually spend another 4 1/2 years in prison.

Kaleme: Have you thought of the moment when your husband is freed?

MM: All our daily and nightly dreams are about that moment.

Kaleme: During this time, what were the best and worst moments?

MM: The worst and most difficult moment was when I watched the i-phone video of how he was dragged forcefully and taken away by Intelligence agents. The sweetest moments are the phone calls. With every contact from him we become re-energized and I am able to discuss issues pertaining to the kids and make decisions [together] about our life affairs.

Kaleme: How will life change when your husband returns home?

MM: I think that even if he is freed, we will always live with the fear that at any moment, the doorbell will ring and they will take him away again. This feeling has been with us since the year 2000, the first time my husband was arrested; a constant feeling of insecurity and anxiety. With every unexpected doorbell or phone call our hearts begin to race.


translation p2e

Ahmad Zeidabadi

Visitation ban still on for Nasrin Sotoudeh, husband reports

Human Rights House of Iran –   Desperate to get any news regarding his wife, Reza Khandan went to the visitation lounge of Evin prison yesterday in hopes of gaining permission to visit Nasrin Sotoudeh, but like previous times in the past he was rejected.

According to the Feminist School, Reza Khandan said that despite the delivery of a letter from Alireza Avaiee, the head of Tehran’s justice department, to the office of the Assistant Attorney-General, no response has been given. The letter states that based on legal rights, Nasrin Sotoudeh’s family should be granted visitation, especially after 40 days of her incarceration. Reza Khandan explained, “Despite the letter by Mr. Avaiee, today, when I went again to the visiting lounge and requested to see my spouse, I was told that she is not permitted to have any visitors. Normally on Thursdays the family members of the ward 209 [prisoners] are allowed to meet with their loved ones, so I made another attempt to see her hoping that perhaps Mr. Avaiee’s letter that mentioned her legal rights had some effect, but, unfortunately, nothing has changed.”

Reza Khandan expressed his feelings of distress and worry over his wife’s situation and objected to the illegal action of banning her family from visits. He said, “Isn’t her file now complete and the investigation over, then why is she not allowed one phone call or one visitation? We don’t even know if she is in good health.” A hunger strike that is nearing a month is no joke. Right now I really don’t know what grim situation my wife is under or what the fate of my children will be.” Nasrin Sotoudeh is held  in ward 209 of Evin prison since September 4, 2010 and launched a hunger strike on September 25th. During this period, there was no news on her aside from a three second phone call she made to announce her hunger strike.

Human Rights House of Iran 

translation p2e  –

Nasrin Sotoudeh

Majid Dori, student activist, exiled to Behbahan prison

Majid Dori, student activist, has been transferred to the Behbahan Prison in the Province of Khuzestan from Ward 350 of the Evin Prison. He had been sentenced to 6 years of imprisonment in the Izeh Prison.

Other prisoners who are serving their sentences in exile are  Zia Nabavi, Hamed Rouhinejad, Ahmad Karimi and Fatemeh Rahnama.

According to Kaleme, the family of student detainee Majid Dori is very concerned about the exile sentence. Based on the verdict, he has to serve the remaining of his 5 year sentence far from his family’s place of residence.

Dori’s family had asked the judicial authorities and the Tehran Prosecutor to prevent his exile to Khuzestan Prison.

His family resides in Karaj, close to Tehran. Therefore, prison in exile will not only be difficult for Dori who has to be held in the same cell as other [non-political] prisoners, but it is an added strain on his family who has to travel to Behbahan which is kilometers away from their residence in order visit their son.

Dori was suspended and eventually expelled from Alameh University when he objected to the flaws in the University’s leadership and the imposed security atmosphere on campus. He founded the Right to Education Committee along with several other students in 2008 (they became known as “star” students – receiving a star from the ruling establishment meant they were not allowed to continue their education).

When Ahmadinejad denied the existence of star students (students deprived of continuing their education), Dori participated in student protests in objection to Ahmadinejad’s false remarks.

The lower court sentenced Dori to 11 years in prison on the charges of  Moharebeh (waging war against God), “acting against national security,” and “disturbing public order” on November 24, 2009. His sentence was reduced to 6 years of imprisonment by the appeals court but his exile sentence to Izeh remained the same.

During the 15 months of his detention, he has submitted requests to authorities several times through his family but the officials have failed to respond.

Human Rights House of Iran

Majid Dori

Shabnam Madadzadeh suffers after given false hope by Prosecutor

Daneshjoonews –  In an unexpected move this morning deputies in Rajai Shahr prison banned Shabnam Madadzadeh, a jailed member of the Islamic Association of Tarbiat-Moalem University, from prison visits and using the telephone.

According to Daneshjoo News, the bans come two months after Shabnam Madadzadeh was transferred from Evin to Rajai Shahr prison on August 2, 2010. She has not been allowed any prison leave since her arrest on February 20, 2009. Despite her young age, Shabnam suffers miserably from digestive ailments and heart disease.

While held in Evin, Shabnam had requested a sick leave from Tehran Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi during her last visit with him. Two weeks later her sick leave was promised to her family, but instead she was transferred to Rajai Shahr prison.

The warden of Rajai Shahr prison Ali Mohammadi verbally communicated the ruling to Shabnam Madadzadeh and responded to her protest that the reason for the transfer was known to him but it was none of her business. He gave Shabnam Madadzadeh a few seconds to say goodbye to her family over the phone. According to reliable sources, Shabnam’s physical and mental condition has deteriorated considerably since this incident.

Human rights activist and jailed lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh,  who is also one of Shabnam Madadzadeh’s lawyers, said that transferring Shabnam to Rajai Shahr prison is against the law. “Even though Ms. Madadzadeh was sentenced to 5 years in prison and exile to Rajai Shahr prison, transferring her under the pretext of exile is entirely arbitrary and against the law. The final decision of the Appeals Court has not been given to me or the defendant. This was not a formal decision and will not be acceptable until it is communicated to us. The decision has no legitimacy, therefore the transfer is completely illegal,” she stated.

Prior to the transfer, Shabnam Madadzadeh had endured incarceration in ward 209 of Evin prison for 520 days. Bahare Hedayat, Mahdieh Golroo, Shiva Nazarahari and Mahboubeh Karami were also held in this ward.

“Faulty Courts and Prison Transfer”

After a year of temporary imprisonment, Tehran’s branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court sentenced Shabnam and her brother Farzad to 5 years imprisonment and exile. Judge Moghiseh convicted both of them of “moharebeh” [waging was against God] and “propaganda against the regime”. They both denied all charges against them on numerous occasions and insisted on their innocence. During the trials, judge Moghiseh was verbally abusive and used profanity with Shabnam Madadzadeh.

During the court appearances Shabnam protested the torture methods that were used on her and her brother. She recounted how she was forced to witness kicks, punches, lashings, and torture toward Farzad in prison. This was a method employed by officials to force Shabnam to make false confessions. Judge Moghiseh announced in court and in front of lawyers that this was not considered torture.

Recently, judge Moghiseh has handed out most of the verdicts against students, including one’s for Milad Asadi and Bahare Hedayat.

Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj is a notoriously horrendous and most gruesome dwelling for political prisoners in Iran. Many political prisoners, including  Ahmad Zeidabadi, Isa Saharkhiz, Masoud Bastani, Heshmatollah Tabarzadi, Rassoul Badaghi, Massoud Osanloo, Behrooz Javid Tehrani, and others are held in this prison. They are detained under the worse conditions and tremendously mistreated by prison officials.

Another issue is that the most dangerous criminals are also detained in Gohardasht prison, which means that political prisoners are faced with menacing threats and attacks. For Shabnam, it is most troublesome that she is one of the only women held for political reasons in this prison. Most of the other female prisoners are accused of heavy crimes like murder and drug trafficking.

Fatemeh Ziyayi is another female political prisoner recently transferred to Rajai Shahr prison. She is around 60 years old and suffers from multiple sclerosis.

In the past months, tensions have been high in ward 350 of Evin prison after the protests of many political prisoners. Bozorgnia, the head of ward 350, threatened several prisoners, including Majid Tavakoli, Ali Malihi, Zia Nabavi and Majid Dori with exile to Rajai Shahr prison. Since the threat was made, Majid Tavakoli was transferred to Rajai Shahr and Zia Nabavi was transferred to exile in Ahvaz’s Karoun prison.



Lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh Being Severely Tortured

Imprisoned Lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh is under severe physical and psychological torture by her interrogators.

According to Human Rights and Democracy Activists in Iran, interrogators in prison are torturing jailed lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh who is on her 20th day of hunger strike.

News from Evin prison’s ward 209 is that even though Nasrin Sotoudeh is on hunger strike, the interrogators keep torturing her. The ward hears her agonizing cries in the middle of the night caused from pain and torment.

Her haunting cries have been extremely distressing for the other political prisoners. According to this report Nasrin Sotoudeh’s screams can be heard almost every night throughout the ward.

Nasrin Sotoudeh is a passionate defender of human rights and she routinely questioned the legitimacy of the current laws in Iran. She protested the illegal conduct against her clients that occurred with the knowledge of the judges, Intelligence agents, and interrogators.

On September 4, 2010, she was arrested at her home by Intelligence agents and taken to ward 209 of Evin prison. Nasrin Sotoudeh has been on hunger strike since September 25th to protest against her illegal arrest and unbearable suffering.

Human Rights and Democracy Activists in Iran asks the UN High Commissioner along with all internal and international agencies to demand the immediate and unconditional release of this noble and honorable lawyer who is devoted to humanity.


Father of Iranian Student in Prison Exile: “My son is dying!”

Kaleme –  Hamed Rouhinejad is held in a two-person cell in Zanjan prison. The vicinity resembles a campground and lacks a suitable medical facility. When he was transferred from Tehran to Zanjan, Hamed’s health deteriorated considerably due to lack of medical care. He is now at serious risk of dementia and death.

[Hamed Rouhinejad was arrested in May 2009. He initially received a sentence of death by branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court when he participated in the summer 2009 show trials. In January 2010, his sentence was reduced to ten years in prison exile.] On August 26, 2010, Hamed Rouhinejad was transferred from Evin to Zanjan prison in exile.  The change in location has caused unbearable duress for Hamed who suffers from multiple sclerosis (MS).

When he was held in Evin prison, he got by with the aid of his friends. They would hold his hands and do anything to relieve his suffering. They would help him with his baths and take him to get some air when they could. While in Evin prison, the medical personnel warned authorities that imprisoning Hamed under [prison] conditions is extremely dangerous.

Hamed’s family was shocked and surprised when, despite the doctors’ warnings, he was moved to Zanjan prison in a campground with no real medical facility. Hamed’s father has stated in numerous interviews that his son is near death and will not stay alive longer than a month in Zanjan prison. Due to his [severe] medical condition, the exile sentence is unbearable for Hamed and his family.

The Kaleme website interviewed Hamed Rouhinejad’s father.

Kaleme: Mr Rouhinejad, please tell us about the latest status on Hamed’s mental and physical condition. Have you seen him lately?

Father: I saw him less than two weeks ago. Hamed was in critical physical condition. He said the MS has now affected his hearing too. So much of his body, including his eyes, ears, liver, and stomach are severely damaged. His brain and memory are impaired and we are very worried about him.

Kaleme: Has his lawyer taken any legal action in regards to Hamed’s grave condition? Are the judicial authorities aware of Hamed’s disease and deteriorating health?

Father: No. I got in touch with his lawyer and told him about Hamed’s deteriorating condition. But, sadly, his hands are tied and there is nothing else he can do. His lawyer said that he managed to get Hamed’s death sentence reduced to ten years, but, unfortunately, that is all he can do.

Kaleme: Considering his situation, doesn’t Hamed have the right to request a temporary leave for treatment?

Father: I discussed this request at the prosecutor’s office today and even brought it up with the prison superintendent. They said that Hamed must make this request himself from inside the prison. If his request is approved, he will be granted a sick leave. If it is not approved, he will remain incarcerated. In other words, he will have to complete the *Seven Labours of Rostam before he is granted permission.

Kaleme: Has your son presented a written request?

Father: Yes. He has made several written requests for a sick leave. He had also written requests during the time he was incarcerated in Tehran. Hamed is now in a two-person cell in Zanjan prison, a facility that resembles a campground. His condition has worsened considerably due to the unequipped medical unit at this location. There is no comparison between now and when he was in Tehran. He is now bordering psychosis and death.

Kaleme: How about you? Have you ever made a request for a sick leave on his behalf? After all, your son is afflicted with a very difficult disease.

Father: Yes, I have made requests to Tehran’s Attorney General, Mr. Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, but he did not accept them. Even the legal doctor of Imam Khomeini hospital confirmed Hamed’s dire situation, but, unfortunately, the efforts proved fruitless. Then to our absolute astonishment and horror, they transferred him to Zanjan prison. Since this move, Hamed’ situation has become increasingly dreadful. Now I have come to Zanjan. I will try to do anything in my power to help, because if not, he will be gone.

Kaleme: Mr. Rouhinejad, some websites have published news of an increase in Hamed’s sentencing. Is this accurate?

Father: Unfortunately one year has been added to his sentence due to the charge of “illegally exiting the country.”

Kaleme: Was this charge not deliberated during his trial?

Father: Yes, it was, but during the trial, no opinion was given in regards to this one charge. Now, sadly, despite Hamed’s grave condition. I even talked to Zanjan’s Attorney General. I don’t know what else I should do.

Kaleme: Is it possible to appeal this verdict?

Father: No, there is no possibility for an appeal.

Kaleme: Your son has been accused of involvement in an illegal political organization. Did Hamed ever accept these charges against him? Is there any documentation regarding proof of this charge in his files?

Father: My son has never been affiliated with any political group. Our family and Hamed have many times, over and over again, expressed that these accusations are false. All this suffering and anguish is because of one illegal exit from the country.

Kaleme: Mr. Rouhinejad, in your opinion, what could possibly be the reason for the issuance of a verdict in exile for Hamed, considering his very dire medical condition?

Father: Many times I have asked this question to authorities at Zanjan prison. They say that they were informed of this decision after it had been made in Tehran. Zanjan prison authorities are under orders to not allow Hamed any visitors, and he is to be held in the high security area.

Kaleme: The latest news that some websites have published is that Hamed has gone on hunger strike. Can you confirm this news?

Father: The last time I was him, he wanted to go on hunger strike due to his miserable condition. I had to plead and beg with him to refrain from doing so. I told him you will get injections worth 50-60 USD a week for your condition, don’t do this. He replied, “Dad, when all my existence is in this tiny dark cell with no peace, what is the point of taking medicine and staying alive?’ He told me that if he does not get moved out of Zanjan prison in one week, he will go on hunger strike, and he would like to die. The hunger strike has probably begun by now because we have not heard from him in two weeks. We are extremely stressed and distraught because he is prohibited from using the phone or meeting anyone.

Kaleme: What request do you have from the judicial authorities in Iran?

Father: I ask from all internal and international organizations, the Secretary-General of the UN, and Doctors without Borders to please examine my son’s situation. If they conclude that my son can endure being in prison under these conditions, there will be no objection. But anyone who sees Hamed just for a few minutes knows that he will not survive these conditions. I don’t believe my child will survive another month.

I have a question for the judicial authorities of Iran: how can my son who is so sick with paralysis in half of his body be a threat to the Islamic Republic in any way? Why are they doing this to him?

My child is innocent. He was put under severe pressure during the show trials and forced to make false confessions. He has since denied all the charges. His biggest crime was his illegal exit from the country. According to the laws of Iran, a person who cannot survive a penalty must be freed. Why do they not follow this law as it pertains to my sick and paralyzed son?

* Editor’s Note: Hamed Rouhinejad’s father makes reference to the Seven Labours of Rostam to emphasize how impossible it has been to convince authorities to allow a prison sick leave for his son, Iranian student Hamed Rouhinejad. The Seven Labours of Rostam are a series of challenging acts carried out by the great Persian hero Rostam.


Hamed Rouhinejad

Azadeh Tavakoli: To Majid Tavakoli

Father lit the candles on the cake with trembling hands. His turbulent stomach was filled with fear and dread. Mother was full of tenderness these days, even as we were drowning in torment.

I was about to blow out the candles when I heard Majid’s hopeful voice in my ears: “First make a wish, then blow out the candles.” My wishes were colorless. I looked into my mom’s dead eyes that had begged Majid with all its existence. I closed my eyes and wished for togetherness in a free and democratic Iran, as envisioned by Majid and his friends.

I looked at the picture frame. My birthday was such a bitter day. The picture in the frame told the harrowing story of our absent loved one. My mother’s face was yellow with apprehension and despair. Her lips, overcome with distress, no longer smiled. How can they possibly torture such a mother yet call themselves the guardians of Islam?

Mother said with her quivering voice, “I don’t like this picture.” I immediately went into my room and retrieved an older picture to replace the one in the frame. The tears in my mother’s eyes moistened her dry lips, revealing a faint colorless smile. Her eyes told the story recounted in her soul.

“I wonder if my Majid has the ability to laugh right now? Does he even have the strength to sob?” I took her hand and replied, “Mother, Majid might be physically weak right now, but he has the courage of the indestructible Alborz mountain. He has the determined spirit of the immense skies above Iran.”

My dear Majid, we are all with you.

They wanted to silence your voice, but your powerful resolve transformed into a roar. Once again, you questioned these curators of Islam.

Know that now, we are your voice and the fifteen other Green friends. We vow to be with you heroes no matter where we are on this Earth. We are steadfast and united until you are free and with us in a Green and prosperous Iran.

My dear brother who means more to me than my life, God bless you.

کمپینِ خانواده بزرگ زندانیان سیاسی

Majid Tavakoli